Thursday, 21 June 2012

Year Long Nature Project

If you read this post you would have seen me mention an upcoming project. It is now the time to reveal. The project is based on this book...

 I purchased i love dirt: 52 activities to help you & your kids discover the wonders of nature last year from amazon and when it arrived I immediately loved it. Too bad it then went into my bookshelf and I sort of half forgot about it. The forward by Richard Louv discusses how many children today spend too much time indoors, between school, after school activities, computer time and television time. At the heart of it is the fact that natural outdoor free play is beneficial to a child both mentally and physically. There has been extensive research into the benefits of natural free play. The introduction speaks the same message as the forward in encouraging and promoting the ease of getting outdoors and interacting with the natural world around us. 

A few weeks ago I was shifting some books around and i love dirt sparked my interest again. I decided that seeing as how the book contains 52 activities (52 weeks in the year, coincidence???) and it is spread over the 4 seasons that it would make a great annual project. A regular thang. Each chapter is a new activity to immerse yourself in nature and to further appreciate it. There are also mini facts and ideas on how to broaden the activity in fun and creative ways. I looked at the calendar and it seemed only perfect to begin this project on the first day of summer, the summer solstice. 

Yesterday the solstice arrived as did our first project. Even though it was a mostly gloomy and rainy day I made it a promise to myself that rain or shine we would get out there and nature it up. So nature it up we did. 
Seeing has how the title of the book is i love dirt it was only fitting that our first activity was all about dirt. The author, Jennifer Ward, tells parents in this chapter all about the importance of getting dirty. She explains that dirt and mud are a great way to be creative and encourages parents to set aside specific outfits for playing in dirt and mud so as not to fear the mess. 

There are suggestions to make hills, walls, holes, shapes etc. She suggests adding water. What happens when you add water to dirt? Of course mud comes next with mud pies and painting with mud. While yesterday may have been our activity day I can see some definite dirt play coming up in the rest of the week. 

So outside we went with some digging tools and toys to play in the dirt...

And what did we find???

We found some roots growing up in the middle of the backyard. 
Obviously from the trees at the side of the yard but still on odd place to spring up. 

We also found an earthworm. We gently picked him up and placed him in another spot. 

This week's fact was about what makes up dirt. We learned (well I already knew but you get my drift) that dirt is a mix of broken rocks and broken down plant matter. I expanded on the fact that some dirt is more clay based and stickier while other dirt is more sand based and drier. Our own back yard is pretty much a black dirt mud hole so it was the perfect place :)

Overall, I would have to say that I forgot how something so simple as digging in the dirt could be so interesting. We also found a bug in there and other bits of things. Vik began imagining digging underground tunnels that he could walk inside and big holes underground. I'm sure those brain seeds were planted last week when we watched Planet Earth: Caves.

Since my plan is for this to be a weekly thing we will be exploring our next chapter next Wednesday then blogging about it on Thursday. Please be sure to check back in for next week's i love dirt activity. 

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